Public events can range from village fetes, sporting activities, small food & drink festivals and music events to large concerts and festivals
Whatever the size and expected attendance by members of public, a fire safety strategy and an emergency and evacuation plan play a vital role in managing the safety at the event and are a requirement under Fire Safety legislation. Where members of the public are invited to participate in a planned event, the event organiser and/or owner of the property or land where the event is staged has responsibility, or a duty of care, for public safety before, during and after the event, whatever the size.
What do I need to do before my event takes place?
Everyone wants their event to run smoothly and safely, so before you start promoting it to the public, have a think about the following areas and how you will take action to make sure your facilities are safe and legally compliant:
Event organisers are responsible for taking steps to protect people attending the event from the risk of fire. This includes employees, contractors, volunteers, the visiting public or any other person who has a legal right to be there.
It is important to appreciate that fire is a very real risk in event environments and event organisers should recognise their statutory responsibilities to undertake a comprehensive fire risk assessment and to put in place such controls as are necessary to mitigate against these risks.
Depending on the nature, size and complexity of the event, a Fire Risk Assessment may be carried out by the event organiser or a member of the events team, providing they have the necessary skills, experience, knowledge and understanding. Alternatively, it may be more appropriate to employ a fire safety specialist to carry out the Fire Risk Assessment.
All events will need some form of event plan, the detail of which will depend upon the nature, size and complexity of the event. This plan should be a live document which records the development of the event and records any important information (e.g. issues, agreements or amendments that may arise as the event progresses).
A site plan or map of the venue is a useful communication tool for the management and control of the event. It is also useful in the event design process to plan how people will enter and exit the site, and how they will move about the site.
Also if you “grid” the event plan, you can quickly identify the dispersal routes which lead people away from the risk. It will also enable you or the event controller, to quickly identify where an incident is.
It is useful practice to use a code word when discussing potential incidents. For example, a colour code is a frequently used option:
Code Red – Fire
Code Green – Medical
Code Blue – Police
Code Black – Suspect Package
This refers to the means of raising an alarm and routes attendees should follow to evacuate the site in event of an emergency. The "usual" way in and out of the venue/street, may be involved in fire and therefore alternative routes should be identified. This could be either a “zoned evacuation” or a “full event stop incident”. A stewarding plan may also be required to ensure onlookers can be “moved” efficiently and safely if an emergency services vehicle needs to pass through, for example.
An incident may involve a premises within the event site, but not part of the event. For example, a private residence located along the main access route for your event. As the event organiser, you need to be aware of this likelihood and maildrop all business, flats and homes nearby so that they are aware that should they call for an emergency vehicle attendance, then your event stewards may need to be notified.
National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) guidance documents
The NFCC are the national standard for fire safety information. The following documents can be downloaded here or found on their website
- Event organisers checklist
- NFCC food concessions
- Semi-permanent tented structures
- Temporary structures fire risk assessment
- Traders fire risk assessment
There is a wealth of really good information out there on the internet. Below are some of the most useful which you can read through to make sure you are event-ready
- Our Outdoor Public Event Safety Information Pack
- HM Government open air events and venues fire safety risk assessment
- Shropshire Council's event notification page - A link to the online form you need to submit to Shropshire Council if your event is taking place in their Local Authority area
- Telford & Wrekin event page - everything you need to organise an event in the Telford & Wrekin Local Authority area
- Telford & Wrekin community event checklist - a really useful checklist for everything you need to do for an event in Telford & Wrekin Local Authority area
- Government guide for organising voluntary events - everything you need to know on a national level
Good luck with your event - most of all, we hope it runs smoothly and safely!